GREENVILLE, S.C. – Tabitha Padgett had two goals and Cat Barnekow had a goal and two assists to lead a balanced attack as No. 20 UNCG rolled past Furman on Sunday, 4-1. The win assured the Spartans of a top-four Southern Conference finish and hosting duties in the first round of the league tournament.
UNCG improved to 13-1-1 on the season and 8-0-0 in the SoCon. The Spartans can finish no worse than third in the league, meaning UNCG will host a SoCon tournament first-round game on Oct. 31.
The Spartans ran their winning streak to 10 games, two shy of the school record and their first 10-game streak since the 2008 season.
Furman fell to 8-6-2, 3-3-2 in the SoCon with its third straight league loss.
Furman actually drew first blood in this one, with Martha Hall scoring her league-best 10th goal of the season in just the third minute. She scored unassisted, putting away a left-footed shot from 18 yards out to put UNCG behind for the first time since a 2-0 loss to Cal State Fullerton on Sept. 5 – 43 days ago.
UNCG wouldn't take long to respond, as Padgett scored on passes from Barnekow and Kristen Schmidbauer in the 20th minute to pull the Spartans level. Schmidbauer played a cross in that Barnekow flicked on to Padgett for her team-best eighth goal of the season.
Barnekow got in on the scoring just 1:37 later, pouncing on Jenn Partenheimer's saved shot to give UNCG its first lead of the day.
That's where the score would stay for most of the rest of the day, until a pair of late scores by the Spartans blew it open.
Padgett netted her second goal of the day in the 75th minute, getting a through ball from Partenheimer and beating Furman keeper Jessica Smith one-on-one.
Schmidbauer capped the scoring in the 78th minute, with Barnekow picking up SoCon-best 10th assist of the year. With her 10 assists, Barnekow moves into a tie for 10th in school history in single-season helpers.
UNCG's starting defense of Katie Evans, Stine Schoening, Morgan Kennedy and Stephanie Partenheimer allowed just four Furman shots on the afternoon. Kelsey Kearney worked the first 81:54 in the net, while Alex Perry finished the contest. Neither keeper made a save.
Smith had six saves for the Paladins. Hall took a team-best two shots for Furman.
"Our team responded quite well to the challenge," UNCG coach Eddie Radwanski said. "We settled down and felt like we played some very good soccer at times. We scored some very good goals and kind of put our footprint on the game. We knew Furman wouldn't give up and would continue to battle, so we had to continue to play our game. In the second half, we were able to move the ball around and we were fortunate to be able to finish some of our chances. It was a good day for Tabitha, who had the two goals and was very active. We were very organized and did a great job of moving the ball around. It was a great collective win on the road."
With the win, UNCG matched its win total from last season, when it went 13-7-0 and 9-2-0 in the SoCon en route to its fourth consecutive league regular-season title.
The Spartans return to action on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 6 p.m. against Western Carolina at UNCG Soccer Stadium. The game will serve as Senior Day for Evans, Jenn Partenheimer and Jen Rincon. That group has won three Southern Conference regular-season titles and posted a 58-17-5 overall record and a 37-2-1 mark in league play.
UNCG 4, Furman 1
Goals by period 1
UNCG................ 2 2 - 4
Furman.............. 1 0 - 1
1. 2:57 FUR Martha Hall (10) (unassisted)
2. 19:26 UNCG Tabitha Padgett (8) (Cat Barnekow;Kristen Schmidbauer)
3. 21:03 UNCG Cat Barnekow (3) (Jenn Partenheimer)
4. 74:09 UNCG Tabitha Padgett (9) (Jenn Partenheimer)
5. 77:49 UNCG Kristen Schmidbauer (6) (Cat Barnekow)
Shots: UNCG 17, Furman 4
Saves: UNCG 0 (), Furman 6 (Jessica Smith 6)
Corner kicks: UNCG 7, UNCG 1
Fouls: UNCG 10, Furman 3
- UNCG -